Top state sites picked

Published 4:26 pm Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Longwood Plantation in Natchez has been selected Mississippi’s top architectural site by voters participating in a contest organized by the state chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

David Hardy, the chapter president, says the list of 12 favorite landmarks shows Mississippians lean toward history, spirituality, good stories and sentimental spots. Photos of the sites will appear on a 2008 calendar.

The Top 12 sites with their vote totals were:

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— Longwood, Natchez: 1,809

— Windsor Ruins, Port Gibson: 1,304

— Biloxi Lighthouse: 1,153

— Mississippi State Capitol: 1,100

— Dunleith, Natchez: 1,034

— Beauvoir, Biloxi: 1,013

— Old Capitol Museum, Jackson: 992

— Woodworth Chapel, Tougaloo College: 977

— St. Richard Catholic Church, Jackson: 960

— Mississippi Governor’s Mansion, Jackson: 873

— Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church, Madison: 851

— Bailey Magnet High School, Jackson: 795

Hardy said almost 24,000 people visited the chapter’s Web site to vote for five favorites from a list of 32.

“I think it heightened awareness of architecture and its importance in building communities, especially along the coast, where we’ve lost so much history and heritage,” Hardy, a partner with Guild Hardy Architects of Biloxi-Jackson, said Tuesday.

“This list is important for architects practicing on the coast and upstate, too, because it tells us what the public sees as good architecture. We can act accordingly to create good places with buildings that resonate with the community.”

Both the 1848 Biloxi Lighthouse and Beauvoir, the 1850s raised Creole cottage on the retirement estate of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, were damaged in Katrina. The lighthouse recently was selected as the new statewide symbol on license plates, and Beauvoir is undergoing a $3.9 million restoration.

The Mississippi chapter held the eight-week contest in conjunction with AIA’s national 150th anniversary.

AIA Mississippi is inviting photographers to submit images of the 12 winners, and the top in each one will be featured in the calendar. The deadline is Sept. 30.

“This list has been remarkably well received across the state,” said Joe Blake, executive director of AIA Mississippi. “This caused Mississippians to pause for a few moments to look at the architecture around them, and it helps us as architects understand the affects and imagery these buildings hold with the people.”